One DO applicant's experience applying to orthopaedic surgery (still helpful for other competitive stuff)

SurgeDO

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Damn man. Your accomplishments are extremely impressive. Congrats on matching and best of luck in residency.
 
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subtlepenguin

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why did you choose mayo as your sole MD ortho away if you knew you weren't going to rank it highly due to location and class size?
 
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DNC127

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why did you choose mayo as your sole MD ortho away if you knew you weren't going to rank it highly due to location and class size?

Because they put you with 2 surgeons for the whole month, 2 weeks each. So I knew I could get a good letter from this and was willing to burn a DO audition to do it.

Also, I did not know that I did not like the location and class size before the audition. I thought I would like both of these aspects of the program and it ended up being the opposite.
 
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Cath Up

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LOL

I will just post a list of the journals I have published in first so if thats all people care about they can read and move on , and then I will post my story below for those who want to read lol

Current number of publications 41 (also a number of these are accepted for publication and are in the copy edit process and should be published online or in print soon. (32 was when I applied in september). Also, 4 of these are abstract pubs and I finally got a case report this fall lol. So in total, 36 are full length original research.

Journals: The BMJ, JAMA, Journal of bone and Joint surgery (x3) (number 1 ortho journal in the world), Journal of the american academy of orthopaedic surgeons, orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, arthroscopy x2, Journal of arthroplasty, Injury (x2), JAMA-dermatology (x2), JAMA otoloryngology, Plastic reconstructive & aesthetic surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, annals of plastic surgery, international orthopaedics, pediatric otorhinolaryngology, among others these are the ones off the top of my head.

So, as AnatomyGrey said, lots of luck and hard word sprinkled with what I like to think of as divine intervention (you non-religious people can just call it more luck)

I picked my school (I got into like 10 DO schools) based on 2 things 1. They had their own ortho program and 2. there was this guy who supposedly let students do research and get publications.

However, I had ZERO research experience from undergrad so I knew it was going to be an uphill battle.

Early in my medical school career I talked to him (the PI) and was let on his "research team". He teaches medical students how to do research, and puts them on teams together to do these projects. He is an expert in methodological quality and really dives deep into evaluating the quality of published clinical research. Many of his projects are what you would call systematic reviews and met-analyses however they have their own twist to them. Journals LOVE his type of work. The pros to this type of research is 1. No IRB needed which saves a lot of time and 2. You can open a sweat shop and do the same project in multiple fields or sub-fields because it doesn't matter what specialty we are looking at the goal is still the same: to evaluate and report the quality of the work produced to ensure it is 1. reproducible 2. generalizable and 3. not fake findings lol.

So, he started me off on a team of medical students on a psychiatry study about October of my first year. I QUICKLY realized my work ethic was far superior to the others on my team and they would just slow me down. So, (without permission at the time lol) I broke off and took the methods and did my own studies on the same subject in Dermatology, ortho, and ENT. After I showed him my work he was amazed, and we developed a great relationship as I became my PIs work horse. This meant lots of 1 on 1 teaching and mentorship the other students did not get. For the rest of 1st year (from november on) I spent probably 2-3 hours a day minimum on research. How did those first 3 studies turn out? One was publish in JAMA - Dermatology, one in JAMA - Otolaryngology, and one in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (number 1 ortho journal in the world). This success resulted in more attention from my PI, and the rest is history.

Now, I had developed some really good research skills. It takes me about 2.5 hours to write an intro on any subject and 4 hours for a discussion. So, I could churn out papers almost as fast as I could come up with ideas for them. Many times me and one of my best friends (who matched ortho the year ahead of me) would just get ideas from reading literature in other specialties on similar methodological issues and say "hey, we can do that" and we would just do it. Summer of 1st year the pubs started rolling in, and I was at like 7 by the time 2nd year started and I just kept rolling with this because it became clear it was going to be something that could set me apart especially if I had good board scores. Also, because I came up with my own ideas and liked to work with minimal teammates I was first author on about 80% of the papers I was on. Of those original 7 pubs, 6 of them I was first author on.

Fast forward to just after second year. I just got my board scores back and was devastated because I worked so hard and my UWorlds said I would be 250+ and now I am wondering if I should switch specialties or apply to a backup. Right at this time the PD at my home program was changed to an MD who was much more academic, and had a vested interest in getting the program to do more research. He also had some clinical projects that had just been sitting, and some great ideas for clinical projects. He heard about me because I had been getting the residents on research projects for the last 2 years, asked for my help, and because of the training I had in other types of research I 1. Knew how to write scientific exceptionally well 2. knew what methodological safeguards were important for quality studies and 3. knew how to navigate the submission and revision process and he let me fly on a few clinical projects that are now published ( one of which in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (a top orthopaedics journal). Also, I now (and then) wrote all of the IRBs for the ortho program. I found IRB's are nothing more than basically protocols, which I had already been making for my other studies. Writing an IRB due to my training was NBD at this point, and took me an afternoon (at most). Working with this PD brought a ton of life back into my research endeavors and now all 3rd year and 4th year I was working on clinical research and the methodologic research with my original PI. Furthermore, this PD had TONS of faith in me and really took me under his wing. He did a lot of things for me that boosted my confidence as a person and applicant to ortho. The letter he wrote me (I now have a copy of) was honestly probably the GOAT letter. Despite wanting me to stay, he still wrote me a letter than opened up many more doors for me and for that he has my upmost respect and loyalty. In all reality, my research skills were more than just a cool CV booster. They helped me create relationships with my home program that I otherwise would have never had and as a result I was very involved in ortho from my first year forward, but especially after the PD switch.

Now however, instead of being the work horse on every study I had a group of 1st and 2nd year I worked with who would do the heavy lifting and I would more or less act as a PI and guide the projects. This allowed me to really continue the original line of research while also being the heavy lifter for the clinical side of my research. These projects all turned out exceptionally well. I am now currently a clinical research heavy lifter and a methodlogical researc mentor if that makes any sense.

The next step in my research transformation is, because I have done so much, I now had the knowledge to lead studies. So, asked the PD about some issues in trauma surgery and we decided to do a full blown systematic review and meta-analysis about a certain subject. I did the protocol, data extraction, wrote the paper, did the stats, and did the revision for this. All on my own, and it was published in JAMA. The largest ortho systematic review ever to my knowledge (over 100+ studies included). I am currently the PI for multiple studies I am running regarding reverse total shoulders, that I anticipate to be published in very high journals.

Now, the interesting thing is my original 3 studies actually made me an expert in this certain type of methodological study and I am asked frequently to peer review for big journals on this subject. I have peer reviewed for the BMJ, New England Journal of Medicine, and many others. Most recently the BMJ (a top medical journal in the world) asked me to write an editorial to be published soon regarding this same issue that I started my first 3 studies on the first year of medical school. God is very good, and it has been crazy to see things come full circle.

I am going to put this in all caps because this is the reason why I have so many publications: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF GETTING PUBLISHED IS 1. WRITING, ITS NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU FIND ITS ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE ABOUT IT 2. ANTICIPATION, YOU HAVE TO ANTICIPATE WHAT PEER REVIEWERS ARE GOING TO NAG YOU ABOUT AND ADDRESS THAT BEFORE YOU SUBMIT THIS STUDY (this only comes with experience), 3. YOU NEED A RECIPE FOR YOUR MANUSCRIPTS, DO THE SAME THING EVERY TIME. MY INTROS ALWAYS HAVE THESE 4 PARAGRAPHS (1. little bit of background 2. what others have found in other fields/studies. 3. what knowledge is missing 4. how we aim to address what is missing) DISCUSSIONS ARE ALMOST THE SAME (1. small summary of what we found 2. how our study fills in knowledge gaps 3. how our study compares to other studies 4. what are the clinical implications 5. what are ways we can change for better in the future 6. limitations 7. conclusion. DONE!!! I literally do that on every paper. BECAUSE I HAVE A SYSTEM AND STICK TO IT, I AM ABLE TO WORK EXTREMELY FAST AND KNOW EXACTLY WHAT CITATIONS I NEED BEFORE I EVEN ATTEMPT TO WRITE THE PAPER BECAUSE I WRITE ALL MY PAPERS THE SAME. HOWEVER, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF GETTING HEAVY PUBS IS NOT RELYING ON OTHER PEOPLE. YOU HAVE TO BE THE ONE WHO WANTS IT MORE THAN ANYONE, AND YOU CANNOT BE ABOVE DOING THE DIRTY WORK. I TELL MY YOUNGER STUDENTS "THE BEST WAY TO PUBLISH QUALITY AND PUBLISH FAST IS TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF. THE MORE HANDS YOU GET DIRTY THE LESS QUALITY THE WORK WILL HAVE AND THE LONGER IT WILL ACTUALLY TAKE".

I am happy to answer any questions about my work or give any advice needed, however, you are likely not going to have this degree of success unless you have a mentor like mine, which is why I feel very blessed to have went to the school I did.

I think its important to understand my success was due to 1. a high output mentor who taught me how to be high output myself. 2. A weird God given talent for writing (many studies accepted without revision) 3. A loving wife who let me do all this stuff without complaining about how hard I was working
You are a legend and this is the best SDN post I have ever read. Congrats.
 
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Kumorebi

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Inspiring read. I pride myself in my writing skills and have publications in chemistry. Literally reading about your accomplishments gave me goose bumps.
 
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DNC127

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I think he is already famous.

I’m just a bone carpenter in training. Only famous at local community hospitals for being the dude who wears his yeezys and Jordan’s in the OR. My mom thinks I’m pretty special tho.
 
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Cath Up

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I’m just a bone carpenter in training. Only famous at local community hospitals for being the dude who wears his yeezys and Jordan’s in the OR. My mom thinks I’m pretty special tho.
Hey man my understanding is joining the carpentry business can actually lead to some pretty significant fame :p

Really though I appreciate the humility and the advice/story you've given the forums. I'll buy you a disgusting protein shake (ortho equivalent of a beer I have to assume) if I ever meet ya.
 

DNC127

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Hey man my understanding is joining the carpentry business can actually lead to some pretty significant fame :p

Really though I appreciate the humility and the advice/story you've given the forums. I'll buy you a disgusting protein shake (ortho equivalent of a beer I have to assume) if I ever meet ya.

I appreciate it ! I am more of a Coke Zero guy though ;)
 
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Can you expand on systematic reviews and meta-analyses? So let's say we're talking about complications after a certain ortho procedure, you would review all the current literature and just write about your findings/what's missing?

I know you said you did some other clinical projects, were these all retrospective reviews of huge databases?
 

DNC127

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Can you expand on systematic reviews and meta-analyses? So let's say we're talking about complications after a certain ortho procedure, you would review all the current literature and just write about your findings/what's missing?

I know you said you did some other clinical projects, were these all retrospective reviews of huge databases?

Ya basically, but there is a lot to actually doing it correct and having sound methodlogy.

Some are retrospective with prospective patient reported outcomes, some are strictly retrospective, currently working on a prospective randomized study getting off the ground. Only one is a database study.
 
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Ya basically, but there is a lot to actually doing it correct and having sound methodlogy.

Some are retrospective with prospective patient reported outcomes, some are strictly retrospective, currently working on a prospective randomized study getting off the ground. Only one is a database study.

Mind providing a good systematic review/meta-analysis article that you have read with sound methodology? Trying to get a feel for how to approach a PI about a project like this.
 

FistLength

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Interviews:
Number of DO ortho interviews: 8 (6 attended)
Number of MD ortho interviews: 4 (Locations: Harvard/Mass Gen, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Univ. Buffalo, MSU Ascension
MD wait lists for interview: 3 (Oregon health science, St. Lukes, U. Kentucky)

My anecdotal experience is that those with the scarlet letters D.O. are prevented entrance into such ivory towers in competitive fields. How did the interview go? I imagine you were the first or one of the first to ever interview there brandishing the spirit of Still.
 

DNC127

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My anecdotal experience is that those with the scarlet letters D.O. are prevented entrance into such ivory towers in competitive fields. How did the interview go? I imagine you were the first or one of the first to ever interview there brandishing the spirit of Still.

I think it went well. But, Who knows!! My interviews with the residents were all super solid because we just talked about sneakers the whole time (I buy and sell enough sneakers to pay my rent) so they thought that was super dope.

in DO ortho most people fit the mold very well, but at Harvard and Mayo there were a lot of “nerdy” (not meant to be a diss by any means) type oeopleso some of my activities like sneaker collecting that maybe a good amount of ortho people do stood out haha.

I will say, pretty much everyone there was from top 10 Med schools except this guy from a Midwest MD school, me, and a girl from a Texas MD school.

and of course they made us wear nametags with our school so I got lots of questions from the applicants about being a DO and some were visibly bugged I was there. The residents and faculty treated me well tho and didn’t seem to care about me being a DO.

One resident told me that Harvard only interviews 10-15 non rotators a year and I was one of them so I doubt they would just give me an invite to fill a quota. Who knows tho.
 
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NurWollen

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Other applicants were upset you were there? Like "Smh, I just shelled out all this money to come to a program that interviews DOs?" Lol, they would have been pleasant to work with.
I think it went well. But, Who knows!! My interviews with the residents were all super solid because we just talked about sneakers the whole time (I buy and sell enough sneakers to pay my rent) so they thought that was super dope.

in DO ortho most people fit the mold very well, but at Harvard and Mayo there were a lot of “nerdy” (not meant to be a diss by any means) type oeopleso some of my activities like sneaker collecting that maybe a good amount of ortho people do stood out haha.

I will say, pretty much everyone there was from top 10 Med schools except this guy from a Midwest MD school, me, and a girl from a Texas MD school.

and of course they made us wear nametags with our school so I got lots of questions from the applicants about being a DO and some were visibly bugged I was there. The residents and faculty treated me well tho and didn’t seem to care about me being a DO.

One resident told me that Harvard only interviews 10-15 non rotators a year and I was one of them so I doubt they would just give me an invite to fill a quota. Who knows tho.

Sent from my SM-G930V using SDN mobile
 
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AnatomyGrey12

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Other applicants were upset you were there? Like "Smh, I just shelled out all this money to come to a program that interviews DOs?" Lol, they would have been pleasant to work with.

Sent from my SM-G930V using SDN mobile
There were a number of people on the Reddit spreadsheet last year that said they'd rather go unmatched (in ortho) than match to a program with a DO in it lol.
 
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slowthai

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There were a number of people on the Reddit spreadsheet last year that said they'd rather go unmatched (in ortho) than match to a program with a DO in it lol.

If I remember correctly, there were also people that said they'd rather go unmatched than match into an AOA program, lol. The superiority complex is amazing.
 
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Scrubs101

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I’m just a bone carpenter in training. Only famous at local community hospitals for being the dude who wears his yeezys and Jordan’s in the OR. My mom thinks I’m pretty special tho.

a sneakerhead that wears yeezys and jordans in the OR? Do you wear those thigh high shoe protectors or do you just like to live life on the edge like a madman?
 
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a sneakerhead that wears yeezys and jordans in the OR? Do you wear those thigh high shoe protectors or do you just like to live life on the edge like a madman?

I use spray that makes my shoes virtually water/stain proof haha. I did get blood on my yeezy 500's one time but some of my shoe cleaner got it out.

Plaster from splinting worries me more than blood haha.
 
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I use spray that makes my shoes virtually water/stain proof haha. I did get blood on my yeezy 500's one time but some of my shoe cleaner got it out.

Plaster from splinting worries me more than blood haha.
The plaster is so hard to get out. Between that and a circulator flinging betadine around ruined my favorite OR shoes back in the day. I never discovered a fix for the plaster better than warm water and baking soda. Acid makes it harder.
 
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Tgfu34

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This is an incredibly inspiring post to someone who wants to enter a hypercompetitive, research-driven field as well. Kudos to you and your medical school performance and good luck with all your future endeavors!
 
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I applied and matched orthopaedic surgery, but I think info like this can be helpful to other competitive stuff.

I promised a write up in the match thread, and here is my attempt to provide information I think is valuable. Stuff said here is mostly just my opinion and what I noticed from my experience plus having a pretty wide network among DO ortho applicants due to serving on national student ortho boards.

As a pre-med student I always wished medical students would come back and talk to us and give honest advice and numbers, and they never did. Unfortunately, the same can be said for those who match... they frequently ride into the sunset and are still vague about their stats and experiences and the rest of us are left with vague rumors and anecdotes from their friends who say they "think" that they must have had 260+ just because they had great success but we never actually get the full story.

This is my attempt to give y'all my full story because 1. I wish more people had done this so I could have gauged my own chances, and 2. with the merger and COVID it is a weird time to apply to residency and y'all might have to be even more selective about where you rotate and apply. This is not a meant to be a braggy post, and I am keeping it real in here even though I am somewhat embarrassed of my scores and rank and such so if you think this post is stupid just move on because it will be valuable to some people.



Stats:
USMLE Step 1: 237
USMLE Step 2: 241
Comlex 1: 634
Comlex 2: 650
Comlex PE: First time pass
GPA ~ 3.7
Rank: 41/110
Publications: 32 (all during med school, all original research, no case reports)
Presentations: 30+
Letters: One from home PD, one from chair of top 5 MD ortho program, one from a attending at my home program, and one from my research mentor.
Bench Max: ~20 pushups lol
Leadership: Multiple national and school ortho leadership positions held.

Applications:
Number of DO ortho auditions: 3 months
Number of MD ortho auditions: 1 month (mayo rochester)
Number of DO ortho programs applied to: ~30
Number of MD ortho programs applied to: ~140

Interviews:
Number of DO ortho interviews: 8 (6 attended)
Number of MD ortho interviews: 4 (Locations: Harvard/Mass Gen, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Univ. Buffalo, MSU Ascension
MD wait lists for interview: 3 (Oregon health science, St. Lukes, U. Kentucky)


So the elephant in the room is obviously my average scores combined with pretty crazy research numbers. However, something that people often down play the importance of is letters of recommendation. It was disclosed to me during other interviews that my letter from my home PD was one of the most positive letters multiple programs had ever seen, and disclosed where I would be ranked. I was told my letter from Mayo was "glowing", and my other 2 were also extremely extremely strong. I don't know anything else about them other than what programs told me so, kind of here-say on this one.

MD side commentary:
So, despite having (reportedly) killer letters, averaging almost 1 publication per month in medical school, excessive leadership etc. I only received 4 MD interview invites out of almost 150 applications. This to me honestly was slightly surprising, because I thought I would get a look from a few of the 6 year research programs (no offers from them). But, I understand my boards are lower and not being above 240 on USMLE 1 likely cost me a couple, and had I been above 250 I probably would have gotten a few more. However, most DO applicants I know with 240/250+ that applied to 100+ MD programs still only had 1-4 MD interviews so I basically got the same amount as them. I would have been a perfect case study for how far a DO could go if I was smarter (sorry fam lol). The DO that fared the best on the MD side that I know of did 6 MD auditions, had very high scores, met diversity inclusion, and got 4 non-rotator auditions from MD programs. So basically, if you are a DO with a good app you will likely get 0-5 MD non-rotator interviews. HOWEVER, my application is actually an amazing case study for the ceiling of DOs in ortho AFTER USMLE becomes pass fail. Once this metric is gone, I suspect DOs will fare worse on the MD side of things, and even with an extremely well rounded app they will probably only get around the same amount of interviews as me. Another important point is that this year DOs FLOCKED to programs that had taken DOs before. I know of AT LEAST 8 DOs that rotated at Mayo Rochester this year (nearly 15-20% of total rotators) and mayo usually takes mostly rotators and NONE of them matched at Mayo. The ones I personally know all put Mayo #1 besides me. So, if you are rotating MD, I would actually think outside the box and rotate somewhere without a DO so that you aren't competing in a flooded DO market. Also, in the upcoming COVID year I would suspect DOs will fare worse in the non-rotator aspect because MD programs will sending these interviews to MD applicants as their rotator pool will not be as robust. Just my suspicion. I did have pretty positive feedback from 2 of the MD programs and suspect I would have matched there if I put them above where I matched, so matching MD can be done and a good number of people did it this year.

DO side commentary:
I was even more surprised at how much the DO programs cared about my letters and research than that the MD programs didn't seem to care about it at all. In the DO world, prior charting outcomes basically said 5 interviews was the magic number. So basically, if you go on all your 5-6 audition rotations do well and get interviews at all of them then your odds will be pretty good. I only did 3 months of DO auditions, because my last 2 gave me really good feedback and I just felt like my odds were good so I pulled back. I also, did not get an interview at one of the programs I rotated at. So 6 of the 8 DO interviews I got were non-rotator interviews. I did not expect this, and I did not think DO programs would care about research but they did, A LOT. If you are a DO with good ortho research, it will carry you far. Same goes for ENT, my best friend had a similar number non-rotator interviews in the DO world (12ish pubs) despite similar average scores. Including the 2 programs I rotated at that gave me good feedback, I had 4 non-rotator programs that gave me VERY reassuring PIC, mostly citing my letters and that those combined with my interview really set me apart. I did the White Coat Coaching interview training and felt like I crushed my interviews thanks to this so definitely check it out (Not affiliated with them at all just really appreciate their work). However, the other people I know that faired EXTREMELY well on the DO side were those with insane board scores. The DO world still LOVES board scores and they can take you very far IF you are also a cool person and easy to work with. However, my experience shows you can have a great application season despite having average board scores if you have other aces up your sleeve such as letters or research. Another ace I had up my sleeve is that I went to didactics and fracture conference from my first semester of medical school until even this last semester at my home program. This was a huge advantage because I really didn't study a whole lot of "basic" ortho stuff throughout auditions and was able to focus more on the cases and such because I wasn't busy memorizing fracture classifications because I was pimped on them and committed them to memory as a first year. I do feel like my knowledge really helped me relax on auditions, and I didn't feel stressed at all.

Overall:
I fell VERY blessed to have ended up where I did and it was where I wanted to end up from day 1 of medical school really. I worked my balls off for the spot I got for all 4 years of medical school and it ended up working out in the end. I matched at a formerly AOA program (by choice) despite feeling confident I could have matched MD due to the post interview feedback I received. Main considerations I had for not going MD was 1. location (didn't like any of the MD locations I interviewed at) 2. My wife and her ties to the city we matched in 3. Wanting to be at a program that felt like family (both mayo and harvard have 13 and 12 residents in EACH class, and I really didn't like this when I was at Mayo), and where all the residents were extremely tight. 4. operative volume and 5. housing market and availability to afford a house that would fit my family comfortably.

Recommended resources for ortho:
Pocket pimped (I made this into an anki deck and that helped me study it)
White coat coaching videos and interview prep
Orthobullets anatomy questions
Talking to people who want to be a mentor and pick their brain.

If any of you have ANY other questions please ask. I really enjoy trying to help others out, and just thought I would try and pass this information along. As stated above, this post was not meant to be braggy, just very matter of fact. It is tough for me to post publicly that my stats and ranked were meh (for ortho), and I always played this card close to my chest as many classmates (who know who I am on here) assumed I was much higher. Many people on here know who I am in real life, so posting this information for sure stings my pride but I have matched and it doesn't matter anyways and I hope others in medicine will follow suit with candid information because it can help set expectations and goals for future applicants.

I hope this helps someone in the future, because if I had read a post like this last year I would have for sure altered my strategy a little bit. Seeing this post would have also eased my mind because I literally had nightmares that my board score would hold me back from ortho the second I saw my USMLE and class rank at the end of 2nd year, but I stuck with it and it turned out AMAZING so if you are an aspiring ortho bro / girl bro just know that hard work and dedication can carry you very far.

Amazing. You're a credit to the field.

You mentioned that most of your papers were meta-analyses or systematic reviews with a twist. Could you elaborate on what kinds of twists you guys have added to your papers?
 
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DNC127

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Amazing. You're a credit to the field.

You mentioned that most of your papers were meta-analyses or systematic reviews with a twist. Could you elaborate on what kinds of twists you guys have added to your papers?

Basically a lot of what we do is evaluating the methodologic quality of published studies, so we gather RCTs or other studies similar to a systematic review, but instead of compiling outcomes we compile data regarding each studies methodological quality or other safeguards present (or not) in the study. Such as bias, reporting guidelines, conflicts of interest, etc.
 
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I will just post a list of the journals I have published in first so if thats all people care about they can read and move on , and then I will post my story below for those who want to read lol

Current number of publications 41 (also a number of these are accepted for publication and are in the copy edit process and should be published online or in print soon. (32 was when I applied in september). Also, 4 of these are abstract pubs and I finally got a case report this fall lol. So in total, 36 are full length original research.

Journals: The BMJ, JAMA, Journal of bone and Joint surgery (x3) (number 1 ortho journal in the world), Journal of the american academy of orthopaedic surgeons, orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, arthroscopy x2, Journal of arthroplasty, Injury (x2), JAMA-dermatology (x2), JAMA otoloryngology, Plastic reconstructive & aesthetic surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, annals of plastic surgery, international orthopaedics, pediatric otorhinolaryngology, among others these are the ones off the top of my head.

So, as AnatomyGrey said, lots of luck and hard word sprinkled with what I like to think of as divine intervention (you non-religious people can just call it more luck)

I picked my school (I got into like 10 DO schools) based on 2 things 1. They had their own ortho program and 2. there was this guy who supposedly let students do research and get publications.

However, I had ZERO research experience from undergrad so I knew it was going to be an uphill battle.

Early in my medical school career I talked to him (the PI) and was let on his "research team". He teaches medical students how to do research, and puts them on teams together to do these projects. He is an expert in methodological quality and really dives deep into evaluating the quality of published clinical research. Many of his projects are what you would call systematic reviews and met-analyses however they have their own twist to them. Journals LOVE his type of work. The pros to this type of research is 1. No IRB needed which saves a lot of time and 2. You can open a sweat shop and do the same project in multiple fields or sub-fields because it doesn't matter what specialty we are looking at the goal is still the same: to evaluate and report the quality of the work produced to ensure it is 1. reproducible 2. generalizable and 3. not fake findings lol.

So, he started me off on a team of medical students on a psychiatry study about October of my first year. I QUICKLY realized my work ethic was far superior to the others on my team and they would just slow me down. So, (without permission at the time lol) I broke off and took the methods and did my own studies on the same subject in Dermatology, ortho, and ENT. After I showed him my work he was amazed, and we developed a great relationship as I became my PIs work horse. This meant lots of 1 on 1 teaching and mentorship the other students did not get. For the rest of 1st year (from november on) I spent probably 2-3 hours a day minimum on research. How did those first 3 studies turn out? One was publish in JAMA - Dermatology, one in JAMA - Otolaryngology, and one in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (number 1 ortho journal in the world). This success resulted in more attention from my PI, and the rest is history.

Now, I had developed some really good research skills. It takes me about 2.5 hours to write an intro on any subject and 4 hours for a discussion. So, I could churn out papers almost as fast as I could come up with ideas for them. Many times me and one of my best friends (who matched ortho the year ahead of me) would just get ideas from reading literature in other specialties on similar methodological issues and say "hey, we can do that" and we would just do it. Summer of 1st year the pubs started rolling in, and I was at like 7 by the time 2nd year started and I just kept rolling with this because it became clear it was going to be something that could set me apart especially if I had good board scores. Also, because I came up with my own ideas and liked to work with minimal teammates I was first author on about 80% of the papers I was on. Of those original 7 pubs, 6 of them I was first author on.

Fast forward to just after second year. I just got my board scores back and was devastated because I worked so hard and my UWorlds said I would be 250+ and now I am wondering if I should switch specialties or apply to a backup. Right at this time the PD at my home program was changed to an MD who was much more academic, and had a vested interest in getting the program to do more research. He also had some clinical projects that had just been sitting, and some great ideas for clinical projects. He heard about me because I had been getting the residents on research projects for the last 2 years, asked for my help, and because of the training I had in other types of research I 1. Knew how to write scientific exceptionally well 2. knew what methodological safeguards were important for quality studies and 3. knew how to navigate the submission and revision process and he let me fly on a few clinical projects that are now published ( one of which in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (a top orthopaedics journal). Also, I now (and then) wrote all of the IRBs for the ortho program. I found IRB's are nothing more than basically protocols, which I had already been making for my other studies. Writing an IRB due to my training was NBD at this point, and took me an afternoon (at most). Working with this PD brought a ton of life back into my research endeavors and now all 3rd year and 4th year I was working on clinical research and the methodologic research with my original PI. Furthermore, this PD had TONS of faith in me and really took me under his wing. He did a lot of things for me that boosted my confidence as a person and applicant to ortho. The letter he wrote me (I now have a copy of) was honestly probably the GOAT letter. Despite wanting me to stay, he still wrote me a letter than opened up many more doors for me and for that he has my upmost respect and loyalty. In all reality, my research skills were more than just a cool CV booster. They helped me create relationships with my home program that I otherwise would have never had and as a result I was very involved in ortho from my first year forward, but especially after the PD switch.

Now however, instead of being the work horse on every study I had a group of 1st and 2nd year I worked with who would do the heavy lifting and I would more or less act as a PI and guide the projects. This allowed me to really continue the original line of research while also being the heavy lifter for the clinical side of my research. These projects all turned out exceptionally well. I am now currently a clinical research heavy lifter and a methodlogical researc mentor if that makes any sense.

The next step in my research transformation is, because I have done so much, I now had the knowledge to lead studies. So, asked the PD about some issues in trauma surgery and we decided to do a full blown systematic review and meta-analysis about a certain subject. I did the protocol, data extraction, wrote the paper, did the stats, and did the revision for this. All on my own, and it was published in JAMA. The largest ortho systematic review ever to my knowledge (over 100+ studies included). I am currently the PI for multiple studies I am running regarding reverse total shoulders, that I anticipate to be published in very high journals.

Now, the interesting thing is my original 3 studies actually made me an expert in this certain type of methodological study and I am asked frequently to peer review for big journals on this subject. I have peer reviewed for the BMJ, New England Journal of Medicine, and many others. Most recently the BMJ (a top medical journal in the world) asked me to write an editorial to be published soon regarding this same issue that I started my first 3 studies on the first year of medical school. God is very good, and it has been crazy to see things come full circle.

I am going to put this in all caps because this is the reason why I have so many publications: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF GETTING PUBLISHED IS 1. WRITING, ITS NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU FIND ITS ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE ABOUT IT 2. ANTICIPATION, YOU HAVE TO ANTICIPATE WHAT PEER REVIEWERS ARE GOING TO NAG YOU ABOUT AND ADDRESS THAT BEFORE YOU SUBMIT THIS STUDY (this only comes with experience), 3. YOU NEED A RECIPE FOR YOUR MANUSCRIPTS, DO THE SAME THING EVERY TIME. MY INTROS ALWAYS HAVE THESE 4 PARAGRAPHS (1. little bit of background 2. what others have found in other fields/studies. 3. what knowledge is missing 4. how we aim to address what is missing) DISCUSSIONS ARE ALMOST THE SAME (1. small summary of what we found 2. how our study fills in knowledge gaps 3. how our study compares to other studies 4. what are the clinical implications 5. what are ways we can change for better in the future 6. limitations 7. conclusion. DONE!!! I literally do that on every paper. BECAUSE I HAVE A SYSTEM AND STICK TO IT, I AM ABLE TO WORK EXTREMELY FAST AND KNOW EXACTLY WHAT CITATIONS I NEED BEFORE I EVEN ATTEMPT TO WRITE THE PAPER BECAUSE I WRITE ALL MY PAPERS THE SAME. HOWEVER, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF GETTING HEAVY PUBS IS NOT RELYING ON OTHER PEOPLE. YOU HAVE TO BE THE ONE WHO WANTS IT MORE THAN ANYONE, AND YOU CANNOT BE ABOVE DOING THE DIRTY WORK. I TELL MY YOUNGER STUDENTS "THE BEST WAY TO PUBLISH QUALITY AND PUBLISH FAST IS TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF. THE MORE HANDS YOU GET DIRTY THE LESS QUALITY THE WORK WILL HAVE AND THE LONGER IT WILL ACTUALLY TAKE".

I am happy to answer any questions about my work or give any advice needed, however, you are likely not going to have this degree of success unless you have a mentor like mine, which is why I feel very blessed to have went to the school I did.

I think its important to understand my success was due to 1. a high output mentor who taught me how to be high output myself. 2. A weird God given talent for writing (many studies accepted without revision) 3. A loving wife who let me do all this stuff without complaining about how hard I was working

This is a pretty solid post and i agree with your suggestions
 

AnatomyGrey12

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I'm a bit of a newbie to the process, so forgive me if this is a foolish question, but how come OP didn't get more interviews at DO ortho programs with that much research?

The majority of DO programs simply won't interview you if you don't rotate, regardless of your application. To get the number of non-rotator interviews OP did is actually really impressive.
 
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Gonzalo de Montalvo

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The majority of DO programs simply won't interview you if you don't rotate, regardless of your application. To get the number of non-rotator interviews OP did is actually really impressive.

Is that true of other competitive programs too and not just DO ortho? Former DO NSG? GS?
 

AnatomyGrey12

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Is that true of other competitive programs too and not just DO ortho? Former DO NSG? GS?

GS is much less audition centric in that way. There are programs that only want auditioners, but a good amount will interview (and match) non-rotators.

I have no idea about neurosurgery, but I suspect they are so competitive they would be like ortho and have zero need to even think about non-rotators. Remember there are literally only a handful of DO NS programs, so every applicant could rotate at every program fairly easily.

I know ENT has a few programs that will interview non-rotators that are the top DO applicants, but the majority of spots are filled with people that rotated.
 
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Wow, this story is so inspiring. Thank you for your effort in writing this, gives me hope as I'm also applying with lower board scores. I'm about to start my ortho auditions, are you able to share your ortho pocket pimped deck?
 
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socialcriticism

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Because they put you with 2 surgeons for the whole month, 2 weeks each. So I knew I could get a good letter from this and was willing to burn a DO audition to do it.

Also, I did not know that I did not like the location and class size before the audition. I thought I would like both of these aspects of the program and it ended up being the opposite.
the surgeons you rotated with must have asked you about your publications right? their jaws must've collectively dropped with what you have achieved. like you probably straight up had more publications than they did!
 

DNC127

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the surgeons you rotated with must have asked you about your publications right? their jaws must've collectively dropped with what you have achieved. like you probably straight up had more publications than they did!

Ya nobody really believed it was real life lol.
 
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DNC127

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Since people are commenting on this I figured I would give an update:

Just hit my 49th pub, hoping my 50th is a paper I am very passionate about and have been working very hard on in a certain area of ortho trauma and one of the big ortho trauma journals. We shall see.

More importantly: Ortho is so badass. My program is so badass. I have scrubbed ~450 surgeries in my first 6 months of ortho residency (3 months of ortho trauma, one month of arthroplasty, one month of gen surg, one month of ER), using the same attitude described above. Many of these surgeries have been from taking nights / weekends / call electively when I didn't have to and wasn't expected to. If I got sent home early on off service stuff or finished early on arthroplasty I immediate look for services that are still rolling and go an help my senior residents / attendings. I get to get my hands dirty in pretty much every case, and gave gotten to do a fair amount of cases cut to close (of course with guidance from attendings) including stuff like hemi-arthroplasties, nails (tibia and femur), sportsy tings like biceps tenodesis / quad tendon repair, coolest of all probably was my PD let me drill and fill the screws for pubic symphysis plate this weekend (not something an intern would usually even be scrubbed in for at most places) while our PGY 3 held the reduction after doing the approach and then he placed a TITS screw and a SI screw (crazy for a PGY3 to be doing). My chiefs have sent me on multiple occasions to reduce stuff that aren't chip shots on my own and it has gone well due to the exposure and amount of early trauma training we get.

So for those about to rank programs, place some serious value in going to places that want you to be there and that you are comfortable with. Very happy with my decision 6 months in. Very happy I chose volume and case load over a fancy name. I would hate to be somewhere fancy managing COVID patients right now in the ICU.

Also, our 4's are interviewing at places like HSS, Mayo, Hopkins, Stanford, NYU etc for fellowship, and their research that we got them on when I was a medical student (LOL!! haha) has been cited as something that they are very drawn to at some of the big time fellowships, which further shows the value of research to SOME programs.

Rank is not everything.

Fit is everything.

Happy to answer any questions about research or ortho.
 
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@DNC127

Incredible thread to find just now, especially as I've been reaching out to professors to get into research. For context, I'm a first year DO, and while not interested in orthopedics (that I know of), I have a strong suspicion I'll be attempting to apply to a field which values research.

Some extra context, I have a very strong background in math as I studied physics before medical school and have a few publications in physics journals prior to school. Do you have any suggestions for the types of research in medicine that I might be more suited for given my background in math? Assuming the goal was to churn out original research as yourself, or at least try to improve my yield as much as possible.

Right now, I'm considering just sending my CV to as many nearby programs as I can think of, I'm hoping I get a few bites.

It's obviously early in my medical career and clinical matters more than preclinical grades but after first term I was ranked first in the class and I had too much time to kill. Hoping to try to pull off something like you, I'd be over the moon getting even a 10th of your yield. Congratulations, it's incredibly inspiring to see what hard work and dedication can achieve.
 

DNC127

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@DNC127

Incredible thread to find just now, especially as I've been reaching out to professors to get into research. For context, I'm a first year DO, and while not interested in orthopedics (that I know of), I have a strong suspicion I'll be attempting to apply to a field which values research.

Some extra context, I have a very strong background in math as I studied physics before medical school and have a few publications in physics journals prior to school. Do you have any suggestions for the types of research in medicine that I might be more suited for given my background in math? Assuming the goal was to churn out original research as yourself, or at least try to improve my yield as much as possible.

Right now, I'm considering just sending my CV to as many nearby programs as I can think of, I'm hoping I get a few bites.

It's obviously early in my medical career and clinical matters more than preclinical grades but after first term I was ranked first in the class and I had too much time to kill. Hoping to try to pull off something like you, I'd be over the moon getting even a 10th of your yield. Congratulations, it's incredibly inspiring to see what hard work and dedication can achieve.

anything in math or physics I would imagine would take a while to publish. Your app will be going to residencies in 2.5 years! So you really want to make the most of it. I would try and get on some clinical research ASAP. Unfortunately, if your school doesn’t have a research infrastructure you really are at the mercy of surrounding institutions and or mentors. I would just spam out some emails and hope something sticks. Also, if you know what field you are interested in you can try and start going to didactics and once the residents seem to know you a little bit you can ask if they have anything that they need help on. This is probably the best thing to do because then you make connections and get research!!
 
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Also, if you know what field you are interested in you can try and start going to didactics and once the residents seem to know you a little bit you can ask if they have anything that they need help on. This is probably the best thing to do because then you make connections and get research!!

They would accept having first years at didactics and that wouldn't seem off? Are these things usually published on websites for everyone to see or would I have to get in contact with the program to figure out how to take part in them?
 
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DNC, this was really a great thread. You have lived the saying "success is where preparation and opportunity meet." I've seen how demoralizing it can be when peers don't have the same drive as you to finish a project. Great to hear your story of how you took it upon yourself to make sure you were as successful as you wanted to work.

As someone who is applying MD with four years of basic science research, I am trying to proactively plan my transition to clinical research over the next couple of months because I believe it lends itself to a better work/life balance (in terms of being able to do work from home as opposed to the bench). You've given some great advice already, but was curious if you have any recommendations with regards to ways people can get their feet wet with no prior experience before they enter medical school (eg learning biostatistics), especially if we don't know what field we want to enter?

Sorry if I missed any info about this you might have shared. Already reached out to a PI at my institution about doing clinical research.
 

Frogger27

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Since people are commenting on this I figured I would give an update:

Just hit my 49th pub, hoping my 50th is a paper I am very passionate about and have been working very hard on in a certain area of ortho trauma and one of the big ortho trauma journals. We shall see.

More importantly: Ortho is so badass. My program is so badass. I have scrubbed ~450 surgeries in my first 6 months of ortho residency (3 months of ortho trauma, one month of arthroplasty, one month of gen surg, one month of ER), using the same attitude described above. Many of these surgeries have been from taking nights / weekends / call electively when I didn't have to and wasn't expected to. If I got sent home early on off service stuff or finished early on arthroplasty I immediate look for services that are still rolling and go an help my senior residents / attendings. I get to get my hands dirty in pretty much every case, and gave gotten to do a fair amount of cases cut to close (of course with guidance from attendings) including stuff like hemi-arthroplasties, nails (tibia and femur), sportsy tings like biceps tenodesis / quad tendon repair, coolest of all probably was my PD let me drill and fill the screws for pubic symphysis plate this weekend (not something an intern would usually even be scrubbed in for at most places) while our PGY 3 held the reduction after doing the approach and then he placed a TITS screw and a SI screw (crazy for a PGY3 to be doing). My chiefs have sent me on multiple occasions to reduce stuff that aren't chip shots on my own and it has gone well due to the exposure and amount of early trauma training we get.

So for those about to rank programs, place some serious value in going to places that want you to be there and that you are comfortable with. Very happy with my decision 6 months in. Very happy I chose volume and case load over a fancy name. I would hate to be somewhere fancy managing COVID patients right now in the ICU.

Also, our 4's are interviewing at places like HSS, Mayo, Hopkins, Stanford, NYU etc for fellowship, and their research that we got them on when I was a medical student (LOL!! haha) has been cited as something that they are very drawn to at some of the big time fellowships, which further shows the value of research to SOME programs.

Rank is not everything.

Fit is everything.

Happy to answer any questions about research or ortho.

GOAT talk right here. Def going to be hitting you up in the next couple weeks to talk about rank list advice. Keep crushing it and passing on your wisdom to the next wave of future orthopods!
 
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